Submitted by cmosteller on Fri, 05/19/2017 - 13:24

FAC News Clips – May 19, 2017


Local News


St. Augustine Record

COMMISSION ROUNDUP: St. Johns County using reserves to cover beach costs after dip in vehicle access fees

St. Johns County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved drawing up to $140,000 out of General Fund reserves to subsidize beach services for the remainder of the fiscal year due to revenue losses as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Jesse Dunn, director of management and budget, said the county missed out on an estimated $55,000 due to an active sand restoration project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vilano Beach that has temporarily restricted all on-beach vehicular access in the area.


Lakeland Ledger

County, city managers talks of water, transportation, medical marijuana at Ledger forum

WINTER HAVEN — In the future, Polk County residents may be drinking clean water that at one time was treated wastewater. That progressive message came from Winter Haven’s interim city manager, T. Michael Stavres, who emphasized during a forum Thursday that there is only a finite amount of water. “We all get our water from the same place,” Stavres said. “It’s a limited product and there are other things we have to look at.” Stavres, County Manager Jim Freeman and 11 other city leaders spoke about the future of water, medical marijuana, and unfunded federal and state mandates during the forum sponsored by The Ledger at the Polk State Center for Public Safety.



What difference has Palm Beach County's panhandling law made?

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Leaders in Lake Worth want to cut down on panhandling. They argue its a safety issue for panhandlers and drivers. Sean Henzel said he has the best job in the world. “Everybody waves to me,” he said waving back to drivers as he stood on a median at 6th Avenue South and I-95 in Lake Worth.  For the past six years, he’s bounced from intersection to highway exit ramp with his sign. “It says ‘A smile and a wave makes my day.’ And it does,” Henzel said a smile of his own.

Tom Rask suing Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri over Sunshine Law violations

Pinellas County political activist and blogger Tom Rask is once again gearing up for battle. Legality of a controversial post-evacuation re-entry permit program has led the Seminole resident and government watchdog to sue Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for violating public records law. Rask is the 52-year-old editor of Tampa Bay Guardian, a website “founded on the premise that independent journalism is important for achieving accountability and good government.”


Additional Homestead Exemption


Tampa Bay Times

Editorial: New homestead exemption would hurt many, benefit few

The impact of the Florida Legislature's foolish attempt to cut taxes by asking voters to increase the homestead exemption is becoming clearer throughout Tampa Bay. Hint: It would not be pretty, and it would not be fair. With Hillsborough County facing an overall first-year loss of more than $30 million if the constitutional amendment passes next year, county administrator Mike Merrill told his staff earlier this month not to fill openings or promote internally. Other counties have yet to take such preliminary steps, but they will have to dig far deeper if voters approve increasing the homestead exemption by $25,000 in November 2018.


Cell Phone Towers

Florida League of Cities slams telecom bill

The Florida League of Cities on Thursday asked Gov. Rick Scott to veto a measure it says will “deprive cities of their authority to regulate the use of public rights of way.” The bill (HB 687), sponsored by St. Cloud Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa, pre-empts to the state the regulation of telecommunications companies putting “small wireless facilities in rights of way.” Such equipment, including antennas and related equipment, can be as big as a kitchen refrigerator.




Tampa Bay Times

Mute Constitution Revision Commissioners hear from Tampa Bay

Florida's Constition Revision Commission held its ninth "Floridians Talk, We Listen" public hearing in Tampa Wednesday evening, drawing about 200 people eager to let the 37-member board know what it wants and doesn't in Florida's Constitution. People asked for less gun control and more. Open primaries to empower nonpartisan voters. A change to the constitution's privacy clause so that it no longer thwarts abortion restrictions, and no change to that clause.




Associated Press

9 years after recession began, some states still unrecovered

MERIDIAN, Miss. | Call them the unrecovered — a handful of states where job markets, nine years later, are still struggling back to where they were before the recession. That’s true in Mississippi, where job numbers and the overall size of the economy remain below 2008 levels. Unlike states that have long since sprinted ahead, Mississippi is struggling with slow economic growth and slipping population in a place that’s rarely at peak economic health. Miguel Brown, despite family ties to his hometown near the Alabama border, is working on oil rigs off the shore of Texas, chasing higher wages.




Florida Times Union

Supreme Court says county slots referendums, like the one in Duval, aren’t valid

TALLAHASSEE | The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the state’s denial of slot machine licenses in a county where slots were approved in a voter referendum. The ruling in the Gadsden County case also affects Duval, where voters approved a slots initiative in November. The state also denied Bestbet Jacksonville’s application for slots licenses at its Arlington facility. Voters in six other counties where slots referendums were approved will also be impacted by the ruling.

Florida Supreme Court rules against Gretna track, slots expansion

A unanimous Florida Supreme Court has ruled against a North Florida racetrack seeking to add slot machines. The 20-page decision, released Thursday, means that gambling facilities in Gadsden County’s Gretna and in seven other counties that passed local referendums allowing slots also will not be able to offer them. In doing so, the court upheld a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that agreed with state gambling regulators who denied the track a slots permit.


Opioid Epidemic


Pensacola News Journal

Panhandle will get $1.2M to fight opioid crisis

Northwest Florida will receive about $1.2 million to combat the state's opioid crisis. In 2015, opioids were responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,900 Floridians, about 10 people a day. Earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott drew down a $27 million federal grant to combat the epidemic, and a portion of the funding will be used locally to provide medication-assisted treatment to individuals struggling with addiction. "This is a real crisis, and we need to really concentrate our communities' strengths and resources," said Michael Watkins, CEO of Big Bend Community Based Care.


Bradenton Herald

14 counties, including Manatee, to split $6M to combat opioid crisis

Fourteen counties, including Manatee, will split about $6 million in federal funding to fight the opioid crisis, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, announced Thursday. As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, Florida received $27 million out of the $485 million in federal funding distributed nationwide. Gov. Rick Scott selected seven “managing entities” to distribute $18 million of that funding for substance abuse treatment. Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties are among the 14 Southwest Florida counties that will split $6 million of that substance abuse treatment funding.